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Kamila Valiyeva had ‘no fault’ in drug test case, Russian Anti-Doping Agency says

Kamila Valieva

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 17: Kamila Valieva of Team ROC skates during the Women Single Skating Free Skating on day thirteen of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on February 17, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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A Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) tribunal said figure skater Kamila Valiyeva bore “no fault or negligence” for her positive drug test for a banned heart medication on Christmas 2021, after which she was allowed to compete in February’s Olympics.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said the tribunal disqualified her results from the date of the test, which would mean she is stripped of her national title. The RUSADA tribunal issued no further sanction.

WADA said it was concerned by the RUSADA tribunal decision, requested a full copy of the reasoned decision and may appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Valiyeva’s Olympic results, helping Russia to the top score in the team event (medals have not been awarded yet pending the result of her case) and placing fourth individually, have not been affected yet.

In November, WADA’s president said it had already taken the case to CAS, citing no progress in RUSADA coming to a decision. CAS said then that WADA sought to strip Valiyeva’s Olympic results and a four-year ban, which could rule her out of the next Winter Olympics in 2026.

The CAS verdict is usually final and binding with the exception of the right to appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal within 30 days on very limited procedural grounds. Doping cases that go to CAS can take months or years before a resolution.

Valiyeva, then 15, was the favorite going into February’s Olympics. After helping a team of Russian skaters win the team event, news surfaced of the positive test. The medal ceremony for the team event was postponed indefinitely. The medals still have not been awarded and will not be until Valiyeva’s case is adjudicated. The U.S. originally placed second and could be upgraded to gold if Valiyeva’s Olympic results are disqualified.

After the positive test surfaced, Valiyeva was allowed to compete in the individual event after a RUSADA anti-doping disciplinary committee lifted her suspension upon appeal by the skater.

The committee cited, among other reasons, a “low” amount of the banned substance in Valiyeva’s sample, that she tested negative before and after the Dec. 25 test and that, as an athlete under the age of 16, she had less of a burden of proof.

Anti-doping rules have a provision that athletes under the age of 16 may face lesser punishments for doping violations than those 16 and over, including a reprimand rather than a suspension.

The International Olympic Committee, WADA and the International Skating Union then appealed RUSADA’s lifting of the suspension to CAS, which then ruled that Valiyeva could compete in the Olympics while her case was still being adjudicated.

Valiyeva topped the Olympic short program, then struggled in the free skate and finished fourth overall.

The CAS panel largely based its February decision on an “untenable delay” in Valiyeva’s sample test results being processed through a Stockholm lab, which led to a short time frame to rule on her Olympic eligibility during the Games. “This case was not about the underlying alleged anti-doping rule violation and the panel takes no position on that,” it stated in February.

All Russian figure skaters have been banned from international competition since February due to the nation’s invasion of Ukraine.

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